There are many kids who dream of playing college sports around the country. Those same kids have visions of that big-time signing day with the fan fare and press. Those events are very real.
But for most high school student-athletes, the decision and opportunity to play in college is a daunting and confusing task.
Here's the Truth
Recruiting is just as much the responsibility of the student-athlete as it is on the athletic program. Coaches cannot possibly identify every athlete no matter how many events they attend, no matter how many camps they attend, and no matter how many programs they sign up for to guarantee recruitment.
Simply put, athletes and programs need to find each other.
College recruiting is a two-way street. As much as college coaches are recruiting student-athletes, the student-athlete has to recruit the coach and the program. The athlete will do most of the work, but for something as incredible as playing college sports, they should work for it. That includes on the field, in the classroom, as well as the preparation process and the research of schools, programs, and coaches.
Recruiting a Program
We all know what a college coach recruiting a student-athletes entails, but how does a student-athlete recruit a program or coach?
From a coach's perspective, it's important to look at what the student-athlete can bring to the program. But what might be overlooked in the process is what the program can do for the student-athlete.
Four tips to help you recruit a program:
1. Establish Your Goals
The first step is establishing your goals and determine what you are looking for in terms of your student-athlete experience.
What do you want to get out of your college experience? You want to find a school that will help you develop academically, athletically, and personally. So, answering that question will help paint a much clearer picture in the decision making process.
2. Do Your Research
Gathering as much information about the school, the program, and coach will be high on the priority list as you begin the process. I recommend to begin with the school and make sure it fits your academic and personal preferences, size, setting, location, social atmosphere, extracurriculars, etc.
Next, to turn your attention to the program. Some factors to consider when evaluating the program:
- Is it the level of play you are looking for?
- How many players are they looking for in your recruiting class?
- What positions are they recruiting for?
- How many players on the roster at your position are contributing on the field?
- Is there an All-Conference or even All-American you would have to compete with for a couple of years?
- Looking deeper into the stats, where is the program lacking and where do you think you can add value?
Once you discover that information, you need to sell yourself to the coach so the coach realizes they need you just as much as you need them.
A student-athlete who has confidence in who they are both on and off the field and can show that to a college coach will be extremely coveted.
Another piece that might be overlooked is you need to get out and watch college games. If you have the opportunity, watch different levels of play so you can compare the speed, intensity, and skill level to your own.
Lastly, look at the coach. What is his/her coaching style or philosophy? Do they align with your core values and playing style? What do other players say about the coach? This might be more difficult information to track down, but there are resources you can utilize. Visit www.lrt-sports.com to check out the college coach ratings and see what their current and former players are saying about the coach.
3. Send Quality, Not Quantity
As much as college recruiting is a numbers game, quality is far more important than quantity. Write a personalized letter to each coach and program you are interested in rather than sending a generic email to 50 schools. Sending personalized letters explaining why you are interested in that program and what value you can add both on and off the field will be much more memorable to a coach who is receiving letters from recruits daily.
4. Visit the Campus
There is no substitute for visiting a college and getting a feel of what campus life is actually like. The campus visit is an integral part of the recruiting component...consider it a fact-finding mission. You want to discover as much about the school, program, and coach while on campus. You want to do and see as much as possible.
A campus visit is typically the first time you will have face-to-face interaction with a college coach, so you want to make a good first impression. On your visit, come prepared with lots of questions for everyone you will interact with including admissions staff, academics personnel, athletics administration, coaching staff, and if possible, current players.
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